Why Music from the Classical Period is More Ornate than Music from the Baro

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Why is music from the Classical period more ornate than music from the Baroque period? There are a few reasons for this. First, Classical composers were more interested in creating a sense of beauty and balance in their music. They also tended to write longer and more complex pieces than their Baroque counterparts. Finally, the Classical period saw the rise of the symphony, which allowed for more elaborate compositions.


The Classical period in music ran from approximately 1740 to 1810. This was a time of great change in music, with the development of new musical styles and genres. One of the most notable changes was the increasing ornateness of the music.

Baroque music, which preceded the Classical period, was often quite ornate. This was partly due to the influence of opera, which was a very popular form of entertainment at the time. Opera composers such as Alessandro Scarlatti and George Frideric Handel wrote highly ornamented music for their productions.

Ornamentation in music is the use of decorative devices such as trills, grace notes, and cadenzas. These devices serve to add interest and variety to the melody. In Baroque music, ornamentation was often used to make the melody more exciting and “singable.”

As the Classical period progressed, composers began to write simpler, more elegant melodies. They relied less on ornamentation to create interest and variety. This shift can be seen in the works of Classical composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.

There are several reasons why Classical composers wrote less ornate music than their Baroque predecessors. One reason is that they were influenced by ancient Greek culture, which emphasized simplicity and clarity over complexity. Another reason is that they were writing for smaller ensembles than had been common in the Baroque era. These ensembles typically consisted of just a few instruments, such as strings or woodwinds, rather than the large orchestras used in Baroque opera houses. The smaller size of these ensembles allowed for greater clarity and definition in the melodic line.

Whatever the reasons for this shift away from ornamentation, it resulted in some beautiful and timeless melodies that are still enjoyed by classical music fans today.

The Classical Period

The Classical period sees the emergence of more ornate music than that of the Baroque period. This is due to a number of factors, including the rise of the middle class and the increased popularity of opera. The Classical period also sees the development of new musical forms, such as the sonata and the symphony.

The Age of Enlightenment

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western music, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820 (the Classical period), this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.

The Rise of the Middle Class

Ornate music from the Classical Period is a direct result of the rise of the middle class. In the Medieval Period, only the Church and nobility could afford to commission composers to write music, and as a result, most music was either sacred or secular. However, with the rise of the middle class in the Classical Period, a wider range of people could afford to commission music, resulting in a greater variety of styles and genres. The middle class also had different tastes in music than the Church or nobility, preferring more ornate and sentimental music. This demand for ornate music led to composers writing elaborate works that were often very emotional and expressive.

The Growth of the Orchestra

The Classical period saw a dramatic increase in the size, range, and complexity of instrumental performance, and a developing literary style for composition. The best-known composers from this period are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert; other notable names include Luigi Boccherini, Muzio Clementi, Antonio Salieri, Giovanni Paisiello, Gaspare Spontini, Christoph Willibald Gluck, and Georges Bizet.

During the Classical period orchestras increased in size and range, and became more standardized. The term “symphony” first appeared during this time; before that it had been used only to apply to works for four players entitled “sonatas.” Symphonies were= either composed by a single composer working alone or by two or more composers working together. Johann Stamitz was one of the first important composers of symphonies for the new type of orchestra. He established the basic four-movement pattern that was to become standard for orchestral works: fast movement, slow movement= , dance-like third movement (minuet or scherzo), and fast finale.

The Baroque Period

The Baroque period lasted from approximately 1600 to 1750. This period was a time of great change in music. One of the biggest changes was the development of tonality. Tonality is the use of different pitches to create a sense of key. This made it possible for composers to create pieces that were more complex and had a wider range of emotions. Another change during the Baroque period was the introduction of instruments such as the violin and the harpsichord. These new instruments allowed composers to create a wider range of sounds.

The Decline of the Church

The late Baroque period witnessed a dramatic decline in the power and influence of the Catholic Church. The Thirty Years War (1618-48), which convulsed central Europe, was in large part a struggle between Catholics and Protestants. The carnage and destruction wrought by the war made many Europeans skeptical of religion in general, and the Church in particular. The Frenchphilosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) argued that faith was not a reliable guide to truth, and that reason was the only sure path to knowledge. The writings of Descartes and other philosophers had a profound effect on educated Europeans, who began to view the Church with suspicion and mistrust.

The Growth of Opera

The growth of opera is closely linked to the development of the Baroque style. Opera is a drama set to music, usually in one or more acts, in which all the parts are sung. The first operas were composed in Florence in the early 1600s, and the form quickly spread throughout Italy and then to other countries in Europe. The first operas were written in Italian, but soon French, German, and English works began to appear. Italian composers such as Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, and George Frideric Handel were among the most important early opera composers.

The Decline of the Orchestra

The decline of the orchestra from its formerly exalted position in the late Baroque period was hastened by a number of factors. Among them were changes in the style of composition, which came to emphasize the solo voice and Keyboard instruments at the expense of full ensemble textures; a growing preference for smaller, more intimate venues, which made the sound of a large orchestra less desirable; and changing economic conditions, which made it increasingly difficult to support an ensemble of such size.


In conclusion, there are several reasons why music from the Classical period is more ornate than music from the Baroque period. First, the Classical period was a time of greater wealth and prosperity, which meant that composers had more resources to work with. Second, the Classical period was a time of great technical advances in musical instruments, which allowed composers to create more complex and dramatic sounds. Finally, the Classical period was a time of great cultural change, which led to a greater desire for new and innovative music.

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